Havana Club Anejo Especial

Havana Club Anejo Especial rum review by the fat rum pirateHavana Club have recently re-branded and re-formulated their entry level Anejo Especial dark rum.  Whether this has anything to do with Bacardi’s recent re-branding exercise I’m not sure.  I doubt however that the two giants weren’t aware of what the other had planned……

Recently, relations between Havana and the US of A have cooled.  This means that for the first time pretty much since the Cuban uprising Havana Club and other Cuban goods will be available in the USA.  I have to say if someone allowed the Russians to point missiles at me I’d have been less than keen to line their pockets as well.

I don’t think there is much I can really add to the Cuba/USA political debate or the history of Havana Club rum.  I recently took part in an online “Twitter Tasting”.  The tasting inv olved 4 of Havana Club’s more premium offerings.  The Anejo Especial is very much a mixing rum.  It is certainly not a sipper.

The Anejo Especial is one of the more readily available rums in the UK.  It is available on most supermarket shelves and virtually all online retailers carry this.  It’s quite frequently discounted and you can often get Havana Club rums with free gifts.  Havana Club branded glass wear or some kind of bar equipment such as a Lime Squeezer.  I paid £16 for this 70cl bottle.  It is usually around the £16-20 mark.  The new formula is bottled at 40% ABV.

Havana Club Anejo Especial rum review by the fat rum pirateThe changes to the formula, if not immediately apparent on the nose are stated on the neck of the bottle.  The previous formula I found not to my liking.  The extra vanilla actually gives the rum a better balance.  I’m not a huge fan of the “vanilla” flavouring which seems to be added to many spiced rums.  The vanilla flavouring in this is more muted.  The previous tobacco, petrol like notes I experienced and did not like in the Anejo Especial are still present.  However, the vanilla has smoothed them out.  This gives the rum a better overall balance and less of a chemical like after taste.

Aside from this I cannot detect that a great deal has changed.  It’s still got that signature Havana Club flavour present in all their mixers and the 7 Anos.  The bottle has been changed and updated.  More is made of the rum being aged in oak barrels and it generally just looks a bit more modern.  The screw top cap is good quality and as usual has the Havana Club Emblem on the top.  The screw top also has the signature of the Maestro Ronero (Master Blender).

So without further delay we’ll move onto to nosing the rum further to see what is still present.

As already mentioned the “Havana Club” notes are very much their.  Tobacco, petrol, fuesil oil perhaps.  However, I am now also getting a sweetness from the vanilla and a little caramel.  Throughout the nose I am also getting some oaky spicy notes as well.  All in all the nose is pretty good if slightly too sweet for my tastes.Havana Club Anejo Especial rum review by the fat rum pirate

When poured the rum is a lovely golden colour.  It is not too dark.  From what I understand the rum is aged for around 4-5 years.  The rum is sweet and very slightly sickly smelling.  Sipped I find the rum a too sweet.  It’s very heavy with vanilla and the caramel and brown sugar notes are too much.  The rum is quite smooth and not very rough.  If you enjoy a sweet sip then you may be able to live with this.  The oakiness and tobacco are notes are overwhelmed by the sweetness of the vanilla.

Mixing this rum in a Cuba Libre (lots of ice, 50ml rum, 200ml cola, 2 lime wedges gently squeezed) the rum makes a nice mixed drink.  the sweetness is tamed a little and the rum’s gently spiced and more oaked notes come through a little more.  At entry level (and something which is freely available) this is probably as good as you will get for £15 in the UK for Cuban rum.  If you are willing to spread your net a little wider and are only really seeking a Spanish style “ron” then you will have more options.  Abuelo or Legendario spring to mind or even a Santa Teresa Gran Anejo.

As an entry level mixing rum this doesn’t pull up any trees but the new formula has improved it.  It’s not going to excite anyone too much but it makes a decent enough mixed drink.

Best bought when you see it on offer.

2 stars

 

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